50 years ago today, The Beatles played their last public concert, performing on the rooftop of Apple Records, surprising lunchtime pedestrians on a blustery cold day. The group, which invited Billy Preston to sit in on keyboards, hadn’t played in public for three years.

The unannounced London appearance was eventually broken up by the police, but all the memorable scenes (including people gazing up in the streets) were filmed for a documentary—a total of nine takes of five songs: Get Back, Don’t Let Me Down, I’ve Got a Feeling, One After 909, and Dig a Pony. WATCH the iconic film… (1969)

(Around 2:15 into the film you see the people on the streets start strategizing to get a glimpse, including an old gentleman with a bowler hat and pipe, who determinedly ascends a ladder on a nearby roof.)

The Beatles realized that the concert would be shut down, as police ascended to the roof, but continued to play for several more minutes. Paul McCartney improvised the lyrics of his song “Get Back” to reflect the situation, “You’ve been playing on the roofs again, and you know your Momma doesn’t like it, she’s gonna have you arrested!” The concert came to an end with the conclusion of Get Back, with John Lennon saying, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Thomas Jefferson offered to restock the shelves of the Library of Congress, which had been destroyed in the War of 1812, selling Congress more than 6,000 books from his own library–twice as many as had burned (1815)
  • The first massive suspension bridge opened on the Wales coastline reduced the 36-hour journey time from London to Holyhead by 9 hours  (1826)
  • First airplane rescue at sea near Cuba via USS Terry (1911)
  • Happy 68th birthday to Phil Collins, the drummer, and later, the lead singer, of Genesis (1951)
  • The first successful trials to treat sickle-cell disease took place at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (1995)
  • Belgium legally recognized same-sex marriage (2003)
  • Iraqis voted in their country’s first free election in a half-century (2005)

And on this day in 1945, 500 Allied prisoners of war from the Bataan Death March were liberated during World War II from a Japanese POW camp in the Philippines. 121 US Rangers, supported by several hundred Filipino guerrilla fighters, trekked 30 miles, then raided the Cabanatuan prison camp using intelligence gained from Alamo Scouts disguised as locals. ‘The Great Raid’ lasted thirty minutes.

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